tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 6, 2014 5:30am-7:31am EDT
pennsylvania, all growing out on this early -- early 19th century suggestion. and, of course, groucho marx o gave us fredonia in the 1933 film duck soup, where he was, i, don't know elected or unelected, leader of that great nation. but getting back to the epic poet of 1814, of the fredoniad, he opened one canto with lofty praise of washington city and the man after whom it was namedd you'll recognize the geography of the heaven on earth right away. where the potomac glides over c crystal sands to wed the sea columbia stands, freedom's st defender when he dwelt on eartha planned and surveyed and brought it into birth, and to exalt its
character to fame generous charc bequeathed it his immortal name. some lines later, the fourth , president's name was joined to that of the first. the the honored place of washington was filled by madison in diplomacy skilled.dipl a seat far more exalted than a throne, or ever yet too hauty monarchs known. the patriotic consensus went like this. the office of the presidency all by itself was a testament to thy nobility of the american political experiment. and madison had already proved himself by 1814 as both as great and as a appropriately humble as the first of men, george washington. so the unfortunate tendency is to make history simple. the whole idea of a political la
faith is that it is supposed to eliminate confusion by suggesting pictures to the mindt that are frozen in time, somehow pure, cleaner, than they really were. the world had known many a hauty monarch, america's distinctive e characteristics was its nonhereditary system of governance. the presidency's republican character, that was our national morality. many people have a picture in mind of washington crossing thed delaware in 1776, in december. a romantic figure, stern, standing erect, looking forward into the future.di the whole world sat on his patriarchal shoulders. well, we don't have to know whao actually happened on that icy river in 1776 to know it didn't look like the painting. it is for similar reasons of
refashioned memory that ioned americans nowadays only think on james madison as the father of the constitution.ye cons intellect to be sure, but in other respects, lacking the charisma of those whose names are associated with the designation age of, age of washington, age of jefferson, je age of jackson, actually nancy and i will tell you that the wl early 19th century was really the age of albert galatin. you'll see. madison should not be seen as one dimensional. he was a complex politician, and as nancy and i demonstrate in our book madison and jefferson and see whose name comes first t
in the title, the 24 year long g virginia dynasty from jefferson through monroe underscores the fact of politics that subsequent generations in their embellishment of a prophetic, progressive narrative of american history don't want to consider.ive and that's the real fragility ol the union. from 1789 to at least 1814, thes more perfect union of the preamble of the constitution was understood for what it was. wishful thinking. virginians were always fighting for virginia. everyone identified with his or her state, much more strongly s than they do today. save perhaps for texas. state identification outpaced the nationalist impulse.
madison knew this. he got beyond it. which made him exceptional for a southerner. he lived many years in philadelphia, and as president n cultivated the competent pennsylvanians and made them him closest advisers, where as his political alter ego, thomas jefferson was more comfortable surrounding himself and fferson communicating with fellow virginians. of course, both the third and d fourth presidents treated their new york vice president as window dressing, handing out crumbs of muted power to the vice president. so as to affect an imaginary balance between the sections.sec yet despite whatever largess he was capable of, madison too kept his pulse on virginia state
politics, wary about departing from that world view. how will this play in virginia, he was repeatedly obliged to ask himself. the virginians almost obsessive defensiveness and refusing to share the presidency with any others speaks to the certain self-consciousness of the ia tha bigness of virginia that dates back to the 1609 charter when o king james i gave the colony ank expansive backyard extending to the mississippi river and to such promising lands as kentucky and ohio and indiana. as a virginian, madison was perfectly part of the ploy in 1812 by which the u.s. would .s. annex canada and cuba and nancyc will speak more to this point. madison was in no way reticent, never mind he was 5'4" and built on a narrow frame and unmarshall in his bearing. n
he was in no way reticent when it came to war-making. in he was secretary of state in tht driver's seat during the negotiations over with france, over the louisiana purchase. the constitution may not have stipulated precisely how lands might be acquired from european colonial powers. but in the face of reality, it was done. okay, madison was not outwardly heroic. y no commissioned painting of him presents vigorous forward sharps eyed talent.en his wife doted on him because he invited it. he thought of himself as a man of infirmitiesi. little madison, as he was widely known and little gemmy as his a detractors often called him wasd
a small narrowly formed man, buh careful examination of all he did over decades brings out abundant evidence that er dec contradicts the standard measure of the man.adntradict madison, we have discovered, was a man for all seasons and those who knew him best knew that theh greatly enjoyed his raunchy sense of humor. he never practiced law.he no one ever thinks about that. to his mind, the philadelphia i convention of 1787 from which his modern fame springs, was not what he argued for. it wasn't the miracle that asn't everyone claims because he wasn't satisfied.wa his preference had been for a sd bicameral legislature where virginia was accorded as the ao largest and most popular state was accorded the greatest numbet of representatives in both est u
houses of congress.mb so the senate we have today was not actually subverted madison's design.as but fortunately for his . presidency, he did get a central government that could urgently t command the economy, and the un military in war time.tl as i suggested at the outset, nl national symbols rarely reflects the flow of historical reality. mostly they reflect the comfortable reading of a fixed point in time.e who madison was in 1787 as a centralizer was not precisely who he was just five years later in 1792 when he led the fight against what he saw as alexandee hamilton's crony capitalist national bank.st yet that madison of 1792 bears faint resemblance to president n madison in 1814 when he found f himself leaning on bankers to
avoid running out of money needed to continue the war. as nancy and i argue in the boot and as john stag has spelled out here, madison's war time presidency was not as undistinguished as the general understanding would have it. h there are good reasons why he ended his second term more popular than ever before in his political life. s >> when i first heard about thii symposium, i'll admit i was s worried. the burning of washington, scary.wo better not give the tea party any ideas.on but as andy emphasized, it is d time to amend the commonly held views about james madison. real when we think about the will ofw the people, we have to realize that they knew that was rhetorical at the time it was w drafted. it was not as if it was the embodiment of everything they stood for.af it sounded good on paper.
madison told his peers at the constitutional convention he would not countenance not laws made by the brightest people in the land and he was thinking ofh his local representatives in virginia. to give needed guidance to those less talented who sat in the state legislatures, and occasionally made in his word mischief, he thought of them as kind of undisciplined children that needed to be reprimanded. he had wanted the u.s. senate te be compromised of elite men who would wield their absolute negative or veto over not just congressional legislation, but state legislation when it was deemed improper or ill conceived.egis he had also hoped for a for coalition of southern states an large northern states which never materialized.rn this is one of the things we have to realize. madison was actually really reai upset at the end of the actu constitutional convention.of he felt that he had lost --
>> can't hear you. >> he felt he lost most of the major issues. he kind of re-adjusted, but he was not a happy man at the end.m and we have to remember that and understand that. confident in the selection of his friend and confident georgem washington as the first ad president, madison remained in the forefront of political debate and ardent supporter of a strong federal system. as leader of the house of olitdr representatives in 1799, he spoke as an enlightened member of the elite on behalf of the e people as he construed them.ha that is he was a representative acting in the interests of the less politically aware.y when it came to what he knew to affected them most, public and c private debt management, and tht potential injustices attending s legislation that sacrificed thet welfare of the minority to the majority.he this is one of the key points j. where jefferson and madison never agreed.ke jefferson believed in the will of the majority.eed.
madison did not. and this is also where he differed from hamilton. this is sort of ironic.this hamilton was much more i comfortable with inherited power, where madison wanted to create a system that could n restrain excessive passions among people. and what is ironic about that is that madison came from a well l established genealogy and pedigree, established family in virginia, which as we know hamilton did not, who was illegitimate by birth. in our book, what we try to looo at are the personal motives andv not just the abstract thinking o when it comes to madisont . and you can begin to see this if you pay close attention to what he says and don't just relate it to political thinkers from europe. he had very specific individualy in mind when he conceived the political principle.ceived and the best example of that is that when he raised the specter of a dangerous demagogue, he
actually wasn't thinking of ly ' hamilton, he was thinking of virginia's effusive patrick henry in mind because he had watched him manipulate the house of representatives with his rhetorical skill. when he thought of firm and yett reasonable leadership, he had washington in mind.n and when he reached for symbolic embodiment of the republican style, it would have not been one of the democratic republican clubs that sprang up in the p mid-1790s even though hamiltonian federalists saw them as having been inspired by ough madison. havin they went so far to nickname g club members the mads. basically implying that they're not quite stable upstairs. no, madison would have found a more appealing symbol of the moe republican style and the national gazette.na the newspaper that madison helped found in 1791.
that was for madison a prime a source of educated public opinion. not what we get today. not polls. get educated public opinion. he wrote public opinion sets ss bounds to every government. here we get this theme that is weetty consistent with madison, setting boundaries. g this is a fundamental principle. it meant restraining, ries. disciplining excesses. this is what madison was committed to.str unlike his friend thomas jefferson, madison never had complete faith in majority rule or anything close to it.ero in a mob, ordinarily decent individuals were capable of abandoning their own reason and joining in the group's enthusiasm.ning this is what madison wrote to wt jefferson, which was the operative term for radical he sentiment or religious ecstasy that implied a loss of individual conscience. this was central to madison's thinking, protecting the individual conscience.e.
so government had to serve not n only to protect minorities but another key idea for him was that governor had -- government had to serve as a neutral arbiter between competing interests. let me repeat that, because it is another key theme to madison. government had to be a neutral arbiter between competing interests so he knew there was going to be tension.g he knew there would be conflicto and this is central to the ict. american experience, not union t or unity, conflict. it was the new institution instt proposed by hamilton, the natiol national bank, which led madison more in the direction of a d mai strict construction of the constitution.n th under the bank's aegis, emerging industrial concerns could receive loans, currency would circulate more easily. and funds could be made available to the government nata the problem here was that a government had so powerful a h t system ofem funding and think o
this today combined with english practices of increasing government debt, the united states would be imitating the british and become a large scale military machine. this is an idea that jefferson and madison both got from pang. madison argued that the u.s. congress was granted a institutional power to charter corporations such as a national bank. that's what he argued in 1791 but it wasn't true. madison was not being entirely forthcoming but advancing this argument in the closed debates at the constitutional convention he had favored chartering a national university but he had change bd by 1791. he didn't get what he wanted t hamilton got his bank.st madison's part isson credentials onlycomi enlarged as the tryinge decade of the 1790s war on.parts one of the things we discoveredf is that t the party was first
identified more with madison than jefferson because he was the active player in congress and was much more out in the open. the first two st organized political partiesäjñ3t federalists andie democratic republican and as they took shape, this is also a period po where wed see some of the most e interesting writings by madison as a legislature. he developed strong positions and wrote pieces such as a candidate state of parties who e were the best keepers of the people's liberty.erson while jefferson had to confine his complaints to private correspondences, madison went g public, opposing hamilton in newsprint. madison's embrace of partisan newspapers helped lay a org foundation foran organized litia political parties yet hle never put his metaphorical eggs in ona basket. concentrating power in any one institution, officer or even a private body. as you guessed he deeply distrusted speculators which was
a very wise position to be now and then. it was a bad thing. parties therefore also had to be restrained. if we look closely at his at response to the alien and sedition act of 1798 in which the federalists were tried to t squelch decent, madison did notd follow, jefferson down the roads of nullification. they both responded. in madison's version -- in jefferson's version he held out the prospect of a state nullifying the law of congress it objected to. madison now madison very consciously and carefully avoided that word choosing interpose instead. a word that ment to meditate to act between two parties. he did not want to annul a power of the federal government.he fed heer wanted to bring the issue before the public and broaden o the range of debate by includint
politicaicl voices from the stae government. now if we fast forward tono w, madison's presidency, we see the political environment is very different. the federalistdi party by that a time and laex andalexander hamir no longer there only had a minority status in the government. as president jefferson's secretary of state, madison had strongly supported an embargo of oversees trade, commercial tal retaliation on the high seas. american's lost honor was part of the diplomatic stale mate that madison inherited. now if we look at kcanada and or of the things that we argue is the war of 1812 is two wars if not more in terms of the agendas that it takes on but the projecj of taking canada really is a
fail buster masquerading as a national war. to what we tend to forget about ous history was filibusterering as the national past time in the 19th century.tempts there were numerous attempts to engage in either sparking revol revolution inut canada, in lati america, this was not a sort off one time event.. it defined america because america in the 19th century wase about getting their hands on land as much land as possible.aa it's the most important t principle of the 19th century. think about texas. texas independence.ce, it was not a revolution of tion independence. it had prutside americans as private armies thativ went into texas to help facilitate what happened there. in the war of 1812, before the war begins, jefferson and jamesg monroe are dreaming of this potential war as leading to the annexation of cuba and canada.
this is kind of fantasy of the ever expanding continent. without thinking about the real realities of what it takes to t deal with taking this land or conquering this land. but this was what they were very much invested in. unfortunately for mr. madison, he wasn't going to get canada or cuba. he had to settle for baton rouge where i happen to live right now so it's a good thing.th this -is- baton rouge if you dot know came into the united state because it was based on the fail buster undertaken by virginians as opposed to the new yorker air inn aaron burr and his attempt to establish the republic of 1810. the lone star flag of the west florida republic later morphed into the better known texas an flag.adiso madison was completely onboard with this. he wasn't opposed to it.t. he was like we'll take advantage
of this. now while historyor has priviled the role of the younger war st haur hawks in congress.fia, they are part of one story. madison's long time secretary of the treasury, wrote the ollowi following on the eve of madison's assumption of the presidency. mr. mad madison is as i always e him slow when taking his ground but firm when the storm arises. >> in his first inaugural address, march 1809, madison made sure everyone knew that he considered his election to have come at a critical historical o moment. he was the first u.s. president to use the inaugural address fof this purpose the first to move beyond generalities.s. he was absent of political bromides, absent of platitudes.,
he was strong and direct. america faced, he said, global f challenges without a pair legal in hi , parallel, he wanted no part of europe's bloody and wasteful wars. but he demanded of the smug power that was great britain one thing, the rights of neutrals. s of e course, we all know what s happened before his first term had ended. u.s. the u.s. declared war on britain, a war it was il, ill equipped to fund.ence there was a reference in that first inaugural address to the constitution as the cement of ce the union. as well in its limitations as in
its authorities. he was promising to adhere to o the same principle he demanded of the hamility yo ililithamili party was in the minority and both houses of congress excluded from the executive decision making. he promised to continue repu republicanbl measures. economy in public expenditures. keeping the standing army within the requisite limits and state denoting state militias as quote theme firmest bow work of republics but that on interpretation of the constitution, constrained from i moving americaca in the directi of a permanently centralized ra military, that interpretation of an america constrained from building up a war chest, that government was supplanted by another. it had to be if continental co
expansionism that jefferson anda madison both saw as ultimately desirable was to take place.pl so madison had to learn on the job. in delivering the second inaugural address in march of e 1813 in the midst of the war, which the government was then i fund, he sang a different tune.t tune now, if you listen to his language, he was referring to ng the rapid development of our national faculties in support oe unavoidable war. when the public voice called for war, he reminded, all new and still know that the effort had to be paid for which required the patriotism, the good sense,, and the manly spirit. manl you can't get anywhere without manly spirit.rit. the manly spirit of our fellow citizens in bearing each his
without politics voting to raise taxes on the people who voted them in or out of office. this is a conundrum the 21st century understands. peace negotiations got under way in europe with madison's full support. he needed albert galatin as his linchpin on the negotiating team in gent. british ships had appeared at the mouth of the potomac as early as july 1813, and raids
along the chesapeake caused a nervous congress to look less favorably on an internal revenue solution. the fiery decimation of the white house, the capital, you know, august 1814 only intensified the need to reorder republican priorities and accommodate president madison's turnabout in favoring tax increases and a national bank that secured a uniform currency and maintained people's confidence in government during peace time as well as war. he had quietly succeeded in rendering hamilton's purportedly unconstitutional bank safe. a bank compromised of private merchants and stock jobing speculat speculators. this was no longer of concern to lovers of the republican form of government. the second bank as reconstituted under madison would not place the constitutional separation of powers in jeopardy.
the people could rest easier. at least those for whom the constitution was a living thing. >> the burning of washington tells us something important about the state of the union in 1814. one massachusetts newspaper ran a satirical headline, the president lost. the story was about how madison had gone missing since the battle of bladensburg and contended and here i quote, he does not even know where he is himself entirely lost and bewildered. in other words, the president hadn't just lost washington, he had lost his mind. so if you think politics is bad today, it isn't any better. now, we have to -- i think several of the presenters have returned to this question, does the burning of washington turn madison into a failed president? a simple sound bite would fly
today. but it misses the larger historical context. the british torched the capital to humiliate the president and actually to humiliate more than one president in reducing washington, the city, they were symbolically reducing washington the general who reduced lord corn wallace at york town 30 years before. you should read british newspapers, they rallied because they fqxçyresented american politicians chest thumping and macho posturing. they thought of america as an undisciplined adolescent who needed a good drubbing. and what we have to remember is that the war itself reflected the nation's conflicted interests. i already referred to the idea of the filibuster are oregon the idea of a war initiated by westerners, which was a frontier war against native americans in
a desire to obtain land from canada and from the northeast and that's what inspired westerners, but there was another war this is the war that madison cared about, which was finding a way to redefine english power on the high seas. it was a tough thing to connect those things and present them as a unified script on what the war stood for. the burning of washington did not symbolize the death of the republic or close to it. because washington city itself did not symbolize the united states to all americans in the way we might think of the federal government today. it was in 1814 as madison acknowledged in 1788 when he wrote jefferson about his disappointment with the federal constitution. he called the new government system a feudal system of republics. feudal system of republics. and what he imagined was going to happen in the united states
is there would emerge multiple state alliances or sectional and regional divisions that would undermine the spirit of the union. and that is a consistent condition of the united states from the time of the constitution, of course, until the civil war. and i would say it still exists today, living in louisiana. and that much reflected the reality of the state of the union in 1814. there was a new england coalition, one that almost seceded from the union, a western coalition that many feared would separate from the union during aaron berr's failed filibuster movement a few years earlier. the middle states, new york, pennsylvania, maryland with port cities invested in international trade, had maintained a loose affiliation with the virginia dominated republican party. bound together by a commercial notion of democracy.
by 1814, their leaders, in the middle states, had grown tired of the virginia dynasty. meanwhile, the new england inspired northwest vied with southern accented coalition of indiana, kentucky and tennessee. and this south itself was less united than imagined. south carolinians had a much greater investment in large scale plantation slavery than virginia did. saddam hussein in fact wanted to reopen the slave trade abolished in 1808. americans in 1814 didn't see washington as the only embodiment of the republic. westerners had far more at stake in protecting mississippi. their trade artery, which explains why andrew jackson's victory in new orleans took on special meaning for them. new englanders rallied around victories in the atlantic as when the uss constitution sank a british warship, 750 miles east of boston. and by the close of the war, and
this is -- this was alluded to by ken bowling, americans were even divided about what to do after they went back to washington and had to deal with the ashes. and the remains of the city. in 1816, congress failed in its attempt to increase the wages of national representatives. first the legislation was passed, but then fully half of the 14th congress were either voted out of office or failed to get nominated for re-election. and the law was promptly rescinded. this statement was a reaction in part against the war hawks who had pushed for a war. and as we know, it took 13 years to rebuild a capital, and as was mentioned in 1814, swampy washington was almost abandoned all together in favor of philadelphia. how then should we remember
madison as a political actor. more than a constitutionalist, he altered the course of history in many ways and jefferson's cabinet, where -- this is the other thing we forget about madison is how he pretty much was not only equal to jefferson in political influence, but stage managed jefferson's political career from 1782 when he persuaded him not to retire from politics after the death of his wife. in 1796, he convinced jefferson to run for president against john adams. when jefferson was urging madison to do so. and jefferson took few actions as president without first profiting from madison's advice. and this is what we keep stressing. that madison's theories about the constitution, theories about a government, evolved due to the other experiences that he had, in the legislature, in the
cabinet, as president. and in fact what we -- when we look at madison's thinking, he was someone who liked to solve real world problems. and sometimes a very more gradual manner than people would like, but a practical manner. he was much more willing to change gears than someone like jefferson was. and this in a sense is a good thing, he was adaptable. the other thing that we tend to forget about is that madison's style was very different. we, today, think that great president has to show his leadership and pretend he's a big man. well, madison was not. but that was actually very soothing to a lot of people in 1814. they saw him as exercising influence without outward ambition. as a legislator, he saw in following and taking great -- paying great attention to
details, and the details of how people behaved. and collecting that knowledge, collecting that information is how he was able to persuade people. it wasn't through his rhetoric. and he had incredible experience. he was in the virginia assembly. he went to the confederation congress, the constitutional convention, the first congress of the united states, and then at the end of the united states he was a ra have state constitutional convention. few had this kind of experience. throughout his career, his was the art of quiet persuasion rather than the art of eloquence and cap the vacation. he analyzed the political conditions and adapted his views. he was attentive to national considerations. he was well aware of balancing the different branches of the government and he never lost site of his state as all politicians of his generation took the same ground. he had a much more flexible
conception of the constitution. especially when the nation faced difficult conditions that demanded solutions. he understood are that the federal system was fragmented. and preserving the union required negotiation. the war of 1812 was as we said an example of the competing interests in different parts of the union. and in many ways it didn't succeed. westerners made off better than the other regions, they didn't get additional land from canada, but as john stag mentioned they did get a lot of land from native americans. the english did not end impressment of sailors because of any pressure the united states had put on them, they did it when they chose to do so. the war are had been waged by a union of regional republics with a loose allegiance to a different government, distant government in washington. you know francis scott key's poem was originally titled "the
defense of ft. mchenry," a much more localized illusion. maybe our flag was still there, but the land of the free didn't get its national anthem into the less than heralded presidency of herbert hoover. >> in balancing central authority against states rights, madison was an able leader in an unpredictable world. congress in 1814, not so much to admire, on the way of leadership. the ever quotable historian henry adams, grandson of john quincy adams, great grandson of quin quincy adams wrote of the year, every ernest patriot in the union and many who are were neither ernest nor patriotic were actively reproaching the
house of representatives for its final failure at an parent crisis of the national existence to call out or organize any considerable part of the national energies. the people, however jealous of power, would have liked in imagination, though they would not bear it in practice to be represented by something nobler, wiser and purer than their own average honor, wisdom and purity. and as they required of their religion and infinitely wise and powerful deity, they revolted in their politics from whatever struck them as sordid or selfish. the house reflected their own weaknesses, rebelled against a petty appropriation of money. there is a lot going on in the proceeding passage, adams was reflecting on a central contradiction in the principle of american democracy, that still applies today. people of average intelligence and mediocre knowledge require people of stronger minds and greater decision-making prowess than their own. in 1814, the people's house, the
house of representatives was just not wise enough to rule. they were too much of the people. just as madison had feared in 1787 when he wanted either an elite educated senate or an extra strong executive. fortunately, for the massive political mediocrity that was the house in 1814, the chamber of commerce responsible for the budget, for the country's fiscal health, fortunately for this uninspired crowd, they had a president who did his job, who knew that the job was to act in the interest of the many as many of his fellow citizens as possible. to quote adams a little further, president madison far from being called to account for errors real or imaginary seemed to enjoy a popularity never before granted to any president at the expiration of his term.
more than jefferson, more than washington? adams. this apparent contemptment was certainly not due to want of grievances, the internal taxes pushed hard upon the people. but no portion of the country seemed pleased that a fourth virginian should be made president. and here is the real reason why madison is someone other than that flat nerdy caricature of popular history. that hopy changy thing we associate with president monroe and the era of good feelings, that cascaded from his nearly unanimous election in 1816, it was generated by his predecessor, little gemmy madison. a political revolutionary, life long student of government, forth coming, open minded,
honorable, who lived to enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge, no less than any of his more storied contemporarcon. hail frodonia. thank you. [ applause ] >> the obligatory q&a begins. we'll just take a little bit of time for this because i know everybody wants to get to the refreshments. [ inaudible ] -- >> -- between madison about nullification. there are those that say madison pulled his punches and what was his ultimate service to the union, but in theory given that who -- who would be better thought of as an expression of original intent, why were
madison's opinions not -- was he honestly representing this position in his correspondence with calhoun. and my second question is, why did his responses bear so little influence on this controversy. >> i'll start and i know nancy, she's the constitutional thinker of the family. just before jefferson died, a couple of months before, he wrote a letter to madison, take care of me when dead, take care of my reputation after i'm gone. he knew the end was coming. and in a very real sense, in the 1820s, 1830s, madison continued to promote the best jefferson that he wanted history to remember. not the nullifier, but the unifier. and that in part conditions what he was saying during the nullification crisis when he --
while acknowledging that he and jefferson were responsible for the kentucky/virginia revolution in 1799, which had never been publicly stated before, still he -- he gave a nuanced response. >> the thing you have to remember, this is what we chart, is that madison's attitudes towards constitutional power, how the constitution should be interpreted, changed over the course of his lifetime. and i have a whole critique of original intent. it doesn't -- you cannot identify it. and scholars have moved, they first argued, well, it was just what the founders said, the constitutional convention. then they said, no, the ratifying convention. their opinion is original intent. now they moved and said it is the man on the street. the man on the street in 1788, no, really, how do you know this person? it doesn't exist. it is a theory that can't actually be substantiated historically because who are we
going to actually embrace everyone who is at the constitutional convention or do we only pay attention to the people we want to listen to. this is the problem. the people who endorse original intent are not historians. >> all right. yes, go ahead. >> this builds on that kind of questioning, you're talking about madison understanding his place in history and his good friend jefferson and his place in history. and one of the questions i always wondered is that madison is one of the framers of the constitution, so he's the one that helps start the framework of government that we have. and as you said, in later in his life, at montpelier, he's organizing his papers to try to make sure that everything is down in the best correct possible interpretation of what it has evolved to by the late,
mid-1830s. so the british are coming to washington in a war that started and thankfully ended during his administration. and much of the same way started by him. and he understands this. he has to understand this. he may not talk about it. but then as in bladesburg, when the army and militia leave and they're going to come through, does he ever talk about the possibility that at that moment in time, it's all going to go away? and it centers on him and at that moment. he may be the only one that's there that's thinking in that context. >> toward the end of his second term, he and alexander james dallas collaborate on a document that's kind of a white paper, really a white wash of the war
of 1812. blaming the british in every respect, and using invective and describing the destruction of washington. as time went on, you know, madison stuck to that narrative, stuck to his guns. and egged on by jefferson as well, because jefferson was really most proactive of the two of them in looking for a republican who they could trust to open their private papers and allow them, public and private papers, and allow them to write the authoritative history of parties. they were combatting for many years the multivol ume biograph of washington by john marshall, which got well beyond george washington's life and into partisan politics.
and they were especially jefferson desperately afraid that american history would be told from the opposition point of view. so you know, this kind of explains why they weren't prepared to let history judge them without their doing everything possible to line up the authoritative writers of the history of the times. >> i want to add one point. this is why history can be really complicated. what you have to know, who is writing what letter, what the agenda is. if you kind of look at a document and just quote it and you don't know the back story, you've missed what's going on. and that's why you have to go to the archive, you have to do research. you have to actually know all of the players involved, not just a handful of players, to really figure out because even when they wrote in their personal
correspondence, they were quite conscious about shaping what they said. i love there's a series of l letters that jefferson writes when burr is on trial where he changes what he thinks and how he expresses what's going on depending on who the recipient of the letter is. in one letter, he's like, oh, good thing. he should be hanged. to another person, he's like, oh, this is so sad that we might lose this important political figure. so this is the problem with history. you have to actually know the archive. you have to know who these people are to really understand that history in a sense is not just there in the archive for the taking. it's already been -- it's been constructed and defined before you get there. >> it's not by accident that there's no letter, no written evidence of jefferson's reaction to the death of alexander hamilton in 1804. it's not an accident. you know, he was probably
relieved on some level. he may have had hamilton's bust at mont acello, but i don't think he mourned hamilton's death. burr was already out of the picture as a political threat. jefferson was content that madison would be his anointed successor. and there's a certain cold-bloodedness in our early presidents that, you know, we tend not to talk about because it doesn't -- it doesn't make them sound, you know, as genial or as the geniuses, the cerebral individuals that we like to remember the founding generation as. but they were first and foremost hard-nosed politicians. they would understand the vindictive kind of statements that, you know, that form our partisan politics today. and perhaps, you know, that's
kind of the last word on this, that madison and jefferson were virginians before they were nationalists or more than they were nationalists. we don't like to know that. we don't like to see that underside. we don't like to think about madison for some reason as a guy who told dirty jokes. but this was a part of the charm that a great early american literatureur who we don't talk about anymore, james k.paulding, he got to know madison, and he loved the story telling. he loved the raunchy humor. and he thought that, you know, too bad american history will not know the real james madison. thank you.>> join us next wedneg
washington journal for the theme of the 2015 cspan student cam document. competition. >> two 00 yea200 years ago, bri soldiers invaded washington d.c. and set fire to the us capital building and white house. kenneth bowling discusses the history of the white house and the capitol buildings. the white house historical association and the u.s. capitol historical society jointly hosted the symposium. this part of the event is 35 minutes. has been just a tremens
group of presentations. so the first speaker that will be coming up this afternoon is kenneth r. bowling. kenneth received his phd from the university of wisconsin. his specialty is the creation of the -- is all about the creation of the federal government during the revolution. he's been very active and interested in particularly researching the seat of government. he's been the author of many book and articles. throughout most of his professional life, he's been the co-editor of documentary history of first federal congress. i do want to say one thing about one of his books, which i think is a real classic now, that's the creation of washington, d.c., which is published back in 1991. if anybody wants to know about behind the scenes and proceedings and meetings and all the things that went on in terms of the location of national capital, this book is a must
read. i'd like you to welcome kenneth [ applause ] >> thank you, bill. rather than thank the individual organizations, i just want to say i think most of us would agree that this conference just rocks. [ laughter ] >> i would like to thank in particular the editor of our papers for the fine job they are doing. fiona griffin and marsha anderson. [ applause ] one of the i think so i have in common with the next speaker, we tend to edit and precise our talks to about the last minute. so i apologize if suddenly i can't read my own handwriting.
>> some water. this is going to have to sit up here. in late june 1790, james hemings, enslaved half brother of thomas jefferson's deceased wife prepared dinner for secretary of state and two guests. he had invited hamilton and james madison of virginia in an attempt to resolve a stalemate that despite weeks and weeks of off the floor negotiations threatened to break up congress and some thought the union itself. hamilton needed a few southern votes in order to achieve
congressional passage of a key component of his plan for funding the federal debt. that is the assumption into it of much of the revolutionary war debt of the states. madison did not achieve any votes to achieve his an george washington's longtime goal, the location of the seat of federal government on the potomac river. not for the first time he and his southern allies had come to an arrangement by which pennsylvania would provide votes for that location in exchange for a temporary residence in philadelphia. each time such an agreement had been reached, new york congressman succeeded in blocking it by promising pennsylvania to support a permanent location in pennsylvania while remaining at new york. congress had been at new york
since 1785. madison needed assurance that new york and new england wouldn't do this again. at dinner hamilton promised to talk to his northern supporters and madison agreed to find necessary votes for assumption provided a potomac residence act had first been signed by president washington. as a documentary record shows, hamilton was successful. and a month later the president signed such an act. soon thereafter congress agreed to assume $21.5 million in state revolutionary war debt. this has become known as the compromise of 1790, the first of the three great sectional compromises that came like clock work every 30 years and held the union together, except for the
last. from the moment the federal government arrived on the potomac river at the end of 1800, residents of washington, d.c. lived under the constant threat that congress would move elsewhere. the concern remained until 1870 when the republican party and best friend washington, d.c. has ever had in the white house, that great american president ulysses s. grant put an end to it. grant believed the 1790 decision to have been of such constitutional magnitude that the question of removal, quote, should go through the same process at least as amendments to the constitution. even if there be a constitutional power to remove it, which is not settled, unquote.
his implied threat to veto any unconstitutionality or the absence of a supermajority established the district of columbia at last as the permanent seat of government. after that the republican party included the physical and symbolic reconstruction of the city as part of its reconstruction of the south only then -- only then did americans outside of washington, d.c. begin to refer to it as the capital of the united states. rather than the seat of federal government. the issue of removal first came before congress in 1805. senator john quincy adams became the first member to argue the constitution did not give congress the power to remove the seat of government.
only the power to locate, build, and govern it. his colleague from georgia, james jackson, pointed out that $21.5 assumed state debt had been pledged to the location. in late 1807 philadelphia launched campaign for the city. john adams reminded his dear friend james rush, that pennsylvania must accept responsibility not only for the potomac location but also for the domination of the federal government it had given slave holding south." when it reached house of representatives in february of 1808, opponents of washington, d.c. had nothing, nothing positive to say about a place
they considered miserable, sickly, wretched in appearance, totally unfit for the seat of a great and powerful empire. it was badly planned with public buildings, distant from each other. perhaps the solitary block on george washington's character, in fact, washington, d.c. was one of the greatest evils the people of the united states suffered. it should be destroyed and annihilated. that's all from the house debate. members of both side indicated their awareness that the decision to come south to the potomac had been a matter of barter. a north carolina representative threatened that if the removal bill passed the house, he would immediately call for the repeal of 1790 funding act.
after a week of consideration, a motion to continue debate failed 5 1-35. on august 24th, 1814, british general robert ross burned several buildings in washington. americans at the time, and as pointed out this morning, british after the fact considered it retaliation for the american burning of government buildings at york, canada. perhaps only one government building and perhaps not the american army after all. this provided the burning of the public buildings provided opponents of the location with an opportunity to argue for removal without having to did he
mean the city. during the month prior to convening of congress in late september 1814, residents expressed fears that the opponents of the city might prevail. washington socialite eliz a, granddaughter of washington, went so far as to accuse secretary of war john armstrong, jr., of allowing the british to capture the city in order to give ammunition to those who wished to move from the potomac and win himself political support in what might have been upcoming campaign. the 13th congress reconvened in the patent office on september 19th. while members talked privately about the possibility of an
immediate removal, president james madison assured them that the buildings were only -- the burning of the buildings were only a temporary inconvenience. but within a week, representative john fisk of new york introduced a resolution to appoint a committee to inquire into the expediency of leaving. opponents argued that it was unconstitutional as well as degrading to respond to british predation by fleeing the city and a violation of contracts and public faith with the original proprietors, as well as the states of maryland and virginia, which had provided funds. more broadly, they maintained that the federal convention had given congress the power to create a seat of government that
would be permanent in order to harmonize and cement the union that it was the strongest link in the federal chain, that the preservation of the union was at stake and that the debates on the subject and the first federal congress indicated that its members understood the location to be essential for the perpetuity of the union. some of the most interesting discussion occurred in the press, particularly in washington and georgetown. alexandria, which also had a newspaper, was less interested. many alexandrians having come to the conclusion long by retro session in 1836 that their inclusion in the distribute of colu -- district of columbia had been an sass ter. the day after fisk released it,
the national intelligence, there could not be a majority in the house that would vote for such a bill. if there were, quote, we well know there will always be one-third of congress firm enough to support the excessive tiff in refusing his signature to allow fraud in such dangerous circumstances, unquote. three days later the editors reported they had received many communications from the public regarding removal but would only print two of these until congress finished the debate. the first of these signed "justice" focused on the his and location -- the history of the location and development of washingt washington. the second had been handed three
weeks earlier. but a lack of space and disbelief congress would discuss the subject as well as thinking premature prevented article's insertion at the time. the author laid out several reasons, good, mad, removal of the federal seat of government from potomac. the father of the country had chosen the location. contracts had been made with states and individuals, the binding force of which were guaranteed by constitution. millions of dollars had been invested in the city, the whole of which would be lost if the government left. it would be an international disgrace if great britain or the world came to believe that a mere handful of men could drive the united states from its seat. it would indicate rapid progress
towards resubjegation by great britain. it would affect the peace negotiations, and it would lessen united states in the estimation of europe. the atlantic states, author of the article warned, would have much to fear were congress to set a precedent for removal. because population growth was gaining weekly, daily, monthly and certainly yearly in the west. if the president had been set, the atlantic states as a whole would lose the seat of government. finally, the author asked, was it unreasonable of washington residents to expect their interests to be protected by congress, especially when they had no representation of their own in it. one of the poeople in georgetow
paper, so hyperbolic reminiscent of the claims made on behalf of many of the more than 50 places that contended for the seat of government between 1783 and 1790, particularly those written by people who suffered from potomac fever, that dilution inducing obsession with the beauty and commercial potential of the river. george washington being the most famous victim. an article published in the national intelligencia called on petition holders to petition congress on the ground that, quote, national honor and justice for bid destruction of metropolis. only memory to the namesake,
readers were probably shocked to read in a letter we printed from a baltimore newspaper that georgetown had offered congress accommodations at the college if it would move the seat of government to the other side of rock creek. while residents of georgetown agreed with washingtonians that the district must be the perm then seat, they mistakenly agreed congress and federal buildings could be situated anywhere in it. actually, the buildings had to be on the east side of the potomac. so georgetown would have been one of the places, whereas alexandria would not have been. georgetown's daily newspaper reported on 10 october that the madison administration, quote, instead of countenancing the plan of running away from the district and, thus, accomplishing the views of the enemy, unquote, intended to call for all the energies of the
nation rather than submit to further degradation by the british and had determined at any cost to provide adequate defenses for the city and to see that it rose again. if the influence of the executive is effective, the paper predicted the public buildings would be more magnificent than the ones burned and become, quote, the pride and boast of a great and increasing empire, unquote. after congress killed the bill, games and seton wrote a piece attempt to remove from washington the city planned by immortal hero and patriot whose name it bears had been put to sleep forever. the matter concerned not only the residents of the district and the surrounding area but also the entire union.
quote, the seat of government was solemnly located with a view to its central position. other circumstances intimately connected with certain early acts of the government, which entered into the compact or compromise in consequence of which the seat of government was settled here in 1790, unquote. at its conclusion, they used the opportunity to clarify the remarks they had made in late september about presidential veto. they had no direct knowledge of madison's sentiments on the bill but claimed because of the role he assumed during the first federal congress and other reasons, quote, we would not doubt but he would reject any bill for removal, which should have passed congress by bare
majority only. in 2004, christy's auctioned a 4 1/2 page undated document titled "seat of government, undocumented statement of compromise or arrangement originally made in congress between the friends of the establishment of the permanent seat of government in the district of columbia and the funding system, unquote. written to influence the outcome of the 1840 residents' debatish the published text and description indicates almost certainly that it was prepared for the massachusetts house delegation probably in an attempt to convince it not to renege on the compromise of 1790. the unsigned document is in the easily recognizable hand of former representative richard bland lee who in the first federal congress represented that part of virginia along the
potomac river from harpers ferry to fredericksburg. he was one of the southerners madison persuaded to change his vote on assumption so that the federal government would be seated on that river. he may even have been told that alexandria would be included in the federal district, because that was george washington's intention. of men most instrumental of bringing about the compromise of 1790, none took greater pride in his role than lee. as he expressed it late in life, quote, i was particularly amongst those few southern members when the angry contentions between various sections of the union threatened the destruction of the constitution, who ventured by general compromise of interests, unquote, to relieve new england of its oppressive state debts,
conse consiliate by making philadelphia seat of government and secure potomac for the southern and western states. lee indicated to thomas jefferson immediately after his vote for assumption in 1790 that he cast it as a willing potential victim in the upcoming second federal election. quote, if the government should be established and prosper because of my vote, i am, as he said, a willing victim of he was not reluctant to use his role as an argument for a federal job in 1815 when he reminded president madison that my agency, in fixing the seat of government at this place is well-known to you. in the end, factors other than congressional and newspaper
arguments killed the 1814 removal bill. first, madison administration adamantly opposed it and exerted pressure on republicans. second, it's advocates had disingenuously argued that the removal would only be temporary, until washington's defenses could be improved and the public buildings rendered capable of accommodating the government. near the end of the bill's second reading on october 15, virginia representative joseph lewis, richard bland lee's representative, incidentally, successfully moved an amendment to the bill appropriating half a million dollars for the reconstruction of the public buildings at washington. with their bluff called, enough
supporters of the bill abandoned it and voted with opponents 83-74 not to engross the bill for a third reading. as i mentioned earlier, it would be the last time the issue of removal came before congress until after the civil war. in part, this was because ironically the outrage over the burnings caused americans to begin at last to take pride in their alternately muddy or dusty seat of federal government. thank you very much. [ applause ]
any questions? yes. >> i'm wondering if i could ask you maybe to hypothesize a little with me, especially in the face of those terrible quotations about washington city and how horrible it was. this is the kind of thing that's so very hard to prove directly unless you're lucky to get a really good source. one of the reasons i thought that removal didn't work in 1814, in spite of itself, washington city was growing into a town by, for, and about politics. and some politicians, senators and congressmen, didn't want to leave washington because they had built networks of influence. my work is about women building beaurocracy next to the official beaurocracy. if they moved to philadelphia or new york, they would not be the only game in town. they would have to cope with local elites.
they would have to cope with important families in economic spheres or social spheres but here they had it all in one place. i wondered if you had any thoughts about that? >> my first thought is that really dolly madison saved the city. >> bless your heart. well, that is for cheap applause but i thank you for it. >> by 1814 or 1815, there was a significant change. comparing washington in 1815 with 1800, there is a significant difference not so much the size but what's happening here. even though there's a network as
you describe it, there's a large group of members almost the majority from the north who wanted to get out of here. they would try any means they could. newspapers go on about this, i didn't mention it. even though the president isn't allowing them to move now, what the congress has the power to do is to block appropriations for recreating the building and thrust forth the president to move. i would like to hear more, if you want to say more about your theory. >> well, since you brought up dolly madison, i find it not a coincidence. it's going take a year to do it, not right at this mom. within a year dolly $0.son and the ladies of washington including marsha vaness have
pulled together and started the washington orphan asylum. it was called by the newspaper one of the jewels of washington city. it's gone on, became the louise home after that. but it was a kind of pledge of faith in the city. i see pledges of faith. the vaneses go on to build themselves the the largest mansions in the united states. this beautiful mansion, vaness and the ladies start this orphan asylum, which gets covered by the newspapers, which they never cover women's activities. these are all kinds of actions by locals and interested people to say, no, we're here to stay. >> afterwards that's very true. columbian college, george washington university, plug for my employer, there's just a whole long list of institutions. scientific and agriculture and otherwise that are founded
between the years 1815, 1822, 1823. there's no question in my mind the burning of the buildings in washington resulted in americ american -- a certain amount of american commitment to the location. there was still lots of opposition out there. people talked about it but not in congress. >> thank you. >> thank you. any other questions? yes. >> poor old alexandria. alexandria subject to that cartoon where we have enough of your porter, enough of your perry, enough of your dark ale,
enough of your pearsi sider, enough of captain perry. great pummel, that cartoon. going through these periods of shameider, enough of captain perry. great pummel, that cartoon. going through these periods of shamecider, enough of captain perry. great pummel, that cartoon. going through these periods of shame, was alexandria able to exert a voice or cowering in the district of columbia. >> exert a voice. unfortunately one of those voices, one of the two alexandria newspapers, no longers, no copies, extinct. the second one, there are a few copies from the fall of 1814. they don't have much to say. the reason i believe that's the case is because they wouldn't have been unhappy to get back to virginia. they had lost their votes, their
representative in congress. for all his political wisdom, george washington, who believed that the location and collusion of alexandria would enrich the town, how many congressmen from boston, new york, philadelphia, baltimore, charleston, south carolina, and a dozen other places are going to vote federal funds to build wharfs and other facilities in alexandria. so that money is not available. alexandria begins to decline. as a transatlantic commercial center. fortunately it's going to become a railroad center, et cetera. those petitions to retrocede the town or actually all of the district on the virginia side of the river, those pegs started
very early. they were never effective until george washington park tried to give up protecting the dream of his grandfather for 100 square miles. when he signed in 1846, bingo, the legislation flew through congress. in his first, i think, speech to congress, address to congress, president clinton called on congress to take back those 37 square miles and reincorporate them into the district. obviously it didn't happen. yes? >> not mention s word, slavery. of course, washington was probably the largest american slave trading city prior to 1850.
how much did slavery influence whether the capital should be relocated? >> i did not see any evidence during september and october of 1814 that the issue of slavery in any way played a role. i did not see any evidence one way or the other in 1790 that it played a role in the location, but it was the decision to locate here. it was as many historians of the early republic pointed out. it was the bull in the china shop. it was the ching you didn't mention. it very well may have been people, northerners, who were opposed to slavery who saw this as an opportunity. as an opportuni opportunity, but i don't see it
actually in the sources. and by the way, since you mentioned washington and george washington, it gives me an opportunity to say because i'm trying to make the case that one of the most important abolitionists in the united states at the time was george washington himself who had become an abolitionist before he became president of the united stat states. so think about that. okay. anything else? thank you very much. [ applause ] the
he's the author of the books "the inner jefferson," "jefferson's secrets," "lincoln dreamt he died," history of the american dream, and he's also co-author with nancy isenberg, our second speaker, will be co-presenting, of "madison and jefferson." and andrew asked me it tell you about his new book that is coming out on jefferson's birthday next year, april 13th, 2015 called democracy's muse, how thomas jefferson became an fdr liberal. description of the white house historian. but anyway, and with him is nancy isenberg, who is also distinguished professor at louisiana state university. she's the author of two prize winning books. sex and citizenship and ant b l antebellum america and the co-author of "madison and jefferson."
please welcome our speakers. [ applause ] >> there we go. i like to give a shoutout to a war vet, not the war of 1812, number 12235370, thank you for your service, dad. you -- [ applause ] you may wonder why it is that nancy and i got to be the closing act at this festival. as wonderful a job as the white house historical association and
u.s. capital society and montpelier have done, they were unable to get jimmy hendricks to perform the star-spangled banner. i'm glad you remember woodstock. by going last, we get to put an end to this nasty war. and to start picking up the pieces. which is to say we get to talk about historic memory. the nature of historic memory. we get to suggest new ways for the public to contend with madison's presidency. as well as his larger legacy. what tradition tells us is the true assessment of historical knowledge. it is often a little more than a consensus of the moment, of a particular moment in history. and it is carried forth for the purposes of commemorative ritual. so a consensus, a mere consensus
is not and should not be the final word on history. in the year 1814, what did that consensus look like? in part, it meant giving this city what was then known as washington city a place in the poetry of nationhood. in -- the star-spangled banner did not resonate in 1814 obviously the way it does now. instead, there was an ode called the fradiniad. why the frodoniad? from o it was offered by samuel latham mitchell to be a better name for this country than the united states of america.
and in some circles it caught on, frodonia, new york, perched on lake erie which we know is a central place in the war of 1812. there is frodonia, kentucky, pennsylvania, all growing out of this early -- early 19th century suggestion. and, of course, groucho marx gave us frodonia in the 1933 film duck soup, where he was, i don't know elected or unelected leader of that great nation. but getting back to the epic poet of 1814, of the frodoniad, he opened one canto with lofty praise of washington city and the man after whom it was named.
you'll recognize the geography of the heaven on earth right away. where the potomac glides over crystal sands to wed the sea columbia stands, freedom's defender when he dwelt on earth, planned and surveyed and brought it into birth, and to exalt its character to fame generous bequeathed it his immortal name. some lines later, the fourth president's name was joined to that of the first. the honored place of washington was filled by madison in diplomacy skilled. a seat far more exalted than a throne, or ever yet too hauty monarchs known. the patriotic consensus went like this. the office of the presidency all by itself was a testament to the nobility of the american political experiment. and madison had already proved
himself by 1814 as both as great and as a appropriately humble as the first of men, george washington. so the unfortunate tendency is to make history simple. the whole idea of a political faith is that it is supposed to eliminate confusion by suggesting pictures to the mind that are frozen in time, somehow pure, cleaner, than they really were. the world had known many a hauty monarch, america's distinctive characteristics was its nonhereditary system of governance. president's republican character, that was our national morality. many people have a picture in mind of washington crossing the delaware in 1776, in december. a romantic figure, stern,
standing erect, looking forward into the future. the whole world sat on his patriarchal shoulders. well, we don't have to know what actually happened on that icy river in 1776 to know it didn't look like the painting. it is for similar reasons of refashioned memory that americans nowadays only think of james madison as the father of the constitution. the possessor of a superior intellect to be sure, but in other respects, lacking the charisma of those whose names are associated with the designation age of, age of washington, age of jefferson, age of jackson, actually nancy and i will tell you that the early 19th century was really the age of albert galatin.
you'll see. madison should not be seen as one dimensional. he was a complex politician, and as nancy and i demonstrate in our book madison and jefferson and see whose name comes first in the title, the 24 year long virginia dynasty from jefferson through monroe underscores the fact of politics that subsequent generations in their embellishment of a prophetic, progressive narrative of american history don't want to consider. and that's the real fragility of the union. from 1789 to at least 1814, the more perfect union of the preamble of the constitution was understood for what it was. wishful thinking. virginians were always fighting
for virginia. everyone identified with his or her state, much more strongly than they do today. save perhaps for texas. state identification outpaced the nationalist impulse. madison knew this. he got beyond it. which made him exceptional for a southerner. he lived many years in philadelphia, and as president cultivated the competent pennsylvanians and made them his closest advisers, where as his political alter ego, thomas jefferson was more comfortable surrounding himself and communicating with fellow virginians. of course, both the third and fourth presidents treated their new york vice president as window dress iing, handing out
crumbs of muted power to the vice president. so as to affect an imaginary balance between the sections. yet despite whatever largess he was capable of, madison too kept his pulse on virginia state politics, weary about departing from that world view. how will this play in virginia, he was repeatedly obliged to ask himself. the virginians almost obsessive defensiveness and refusing to share the presidency with any others speaks to the certain self-consciousness of the beatness of virginia that dates back to the 1609 charter when king james i gave the colony an expansive backyard extending to the mississippi river and to such promising lands as kentucky and ohio and indiana. as a virginian, madison was perfectly part of the ploy in
1812 by which the u.s. would annex canada and cuba and nancy will speak more to this point. madison was in no way reticent, never mind he was 5'4" and built on a narrow frame and unmarshall in his bearing. he was in no way reticent when he came to war-making. he was secretary of state in the driver's seat during the negotiations over with france, over the louisiana purchase. the constitution may not have stipulated precisely how lands might be acquired from european colonial powers. but in the face of reality, it was done. okay, madison was not outwardly heroic. no commissioned painting of him presents vigorous forward sharp eyed talent.
his wife doted on him because he invited it. he thought of himself as a man of infirmities. little madison, as he was widely known and little gemmy as his detractors often called him was a small narrowly formed man, but careful examination of all he did over decades brings out abundant evidence that contradicts the standard measure of the man. madison, we have discovered, was a man for all seasons and those who knew him best knew that they greatly enjoyed his raunchy sense of humor. he never practiced law. no one ever thinks about that. to his mind, the philadelphia convention of 1787 from which his modern fame springs, was not
what he argued for. it wasn't the miracle that everyone claims because he wasn't satisfied. his preference had been for a bicameral legislature where virginia was accorded as the largest and most popular state was accorded the greatest number of representatives in both houses of congress. so the senate we have today was not actually subverted madison's design. but fortunately for his presidency, he did get a central government that could urgently command the economy, and the military in war time. as i suggested at the outset, national symbols rarely reflect the flow of historical reality. mostly they reflect the comfortable reading of a fixed point in time. who madison was in 1787 as a centralizer was not precisely who he was just five years later in 1792 when he led the fight
against what he saw as alexander hamilton's crony capitalist national bank. yet that madison of 1792 bears faint resemblance to president madison in 1814 when he found himself leaning on bankers to avoid running out of money needed to continue the war. as nancy and i argue in the book and as john stag has spelled out here, madison's war time presidency was not as undistinguished as the general understanding would have it. there are good reasons why he ended his second term more popular than ever before in his political life. >> when i first heard about this symposium, i'll admit i was worried. the burning of washington, scary. better not give the tea party any ideas. but as andy emphasized, it is
time to mend the commonly held views about james madison. when we think about the will of the people, we have to realize that they knew that was rhetorical at the time it was drafted. it was not as if it was the embodiment of everything they stood for. it sounded good on paper. madison told his piers at the constitutional convention he would not couldnntenance not la made by the brightest people in the land and he was thinking of virginia. to give needed guidance to those less talented who sat in the state legislatures, and occasionally made in his word mischief, he thought of them as kind of undisciplined children that needed to be reprimanded. he had wanted the u.s. senate to be compromised of elite men who would wield their absolute negative or are veto over not just congressional legislation,
but state legislation when it was deemed improper or ill conceived. he had also hoped for a coalition of southern states and large northern states which never materialized. this is one of the things we have to realize. madison was actually really upset at the end of the constitutional convention. he felt that he had lost -- >> can't hear you. >> he felt he lost most of the major issues. he kind of re-adjusted, but he was not a happy man at the end. and we have to remember that and understand that. confident in this election of his friend and confident george washington as the first president, madison remained in the forefront of political debate and ardent supporter of a strong federal system. as leader of the house of representatives in 1799, he spoke as an enlightened member of the elite on behalf of the people as he construed them. that is he was a representative acting in the interests of the less politically aware. when it came to what he knew
affected them most, public and private debt management, and the potential injustices attending legislation that sacrificed the welfare of the minority to the majority. this is one of the key points where jefferson and madison never agreed. jefferson believed in the will of the majority. madison did not. and this is also where he differed from hamilton. this is sort of ironic. hamilton was much more comfortable with inherited power, where madison wanted to create a system that could restrain excessive passions among people. and what is ironic about that is that madison came from a well established genealogy and pedigree, established family in virginia, which as we know hamilton did not, who was illegitimate by birth. in our book, what we try to look at are the personal motives and not just the abstract thinking when it comes to madison. and you can begin to see this if you pay close attention to what
he says and don't just relate it to political thinkers from europe. he had very specific individuals in mind when he conceived the political principle. and the best example of that is that when he raised the specter of a dangerous demagogue, he actually wasn't thinking of hamilton, he was thinking of virginia's effusive patrick henry in mind because he had watched him manipulate the house of representatives with his rhetorical skill. when he thought of firm and yet reasonable leadership, he had washington in mind. and when he reached for symbolic embodiment of the republican style, it would have not been one of the democratic republican clubs that sprang up in the mid-1790s even though hamiltonian federalists saw them as having been inspired by madison. they went so far to nickname club members the mads.
basically implying that they're not quite stable upstairs. no, madison would have found a more appealing symbol of the republican style and the national gazette. the newspaper that madison helped found in 1791. that was for madison a prime source of educated public opinion. not what we get today. not polls. educated public opinion. he wrote public opinion sets bounds to every government. here we get this theme that is pretty consistent with madison, setting boundaries. this is a fundamental principle. it meant restraining, disciplining excesses. this is what madison was committed to. unlike his friend thomas jefferson, madison never had complete faith in majority rule or anything close to it. in a mob, ordinarily decent individuals were capable of abandoning their own reason and
joining in the group's enthusiasm. this is what madison wrote to jefferson, which was the operative term for radical sentiment or religious ecstasy that implied a loss of individual conscience. this was central to madison's thinking, protecting the individual conscience. so government had to serve not only to protect minorities but another key idea for him was that governor had -- government had to serve as a neutral arbiter between competing interests. let me repeat that, because it is another key theme to madison. government had to be a neutral arbiter between competing interests so he knew there was going to be tension. he knew there would be conflict. and this is central to the american experience, not union or unity, conflict. it was the new institution proposed by hamilton, the national bank, which led madison more in the direction of a strict construction of the constitution. under the bank's aegis, emerging
english practices of increasing government debt, the united states -- was granted a constitutional power to -- madison was not being forth coming by bringing up this argument in the constitutional debates. he had favor chartering a national university but changed. he didn't get what he want, hamilton got his back. madison's partisan credentials only enlarged as the trying decade of the 1790s war on. and in fact one of the things we discovered is that the party was first identified more with madison than jefferson because he was the active member in congress and was much more out in the open. if we look at first two organized political parties, federalists and democratic republican and as they took shape, this is also a period where we see some of the most interesting writings by madison as a legislature. he developed strong positions and wrote pieces such as a candid state of parties, who were the best keepers of the people's liberty. while jefferson had to confine his complaints to private correspondents, madison went public, opposing hamilton in news print. madison's embrace of partisan
newspapers helped lay a foundation for organized political parties. yet he metaphorical eggs in one basket. he deeply distrusted speculators, which was a very wise position to be now and then. was a bad thing. parties therefore also had to be restrained. and if we look closely at his response to the alien and decision act of 1798 where the federalists were trying to squelch dissent, madison did not follow jefferson down the road to nullification. they both responded, they secretly fed resolutions to state legislatures of kentucky and virginia. in madison's version, i mean, in jefferson's version, he held out the prospect of a state nullifying a law of congress it objected to. now madison very consciously, very carefully avoided that
word. choosing interpose instead, a word that meant to mediate, to act between two parties. he did not want to annul a power of the federal government, he wanted to bring the issue before the public and broaden the range of debate by including political voices from the state government. now, if we fast-forward to madison's presidency, we see the political environment is very different. the federalist party by that time and alexander hamilton as we're well aware is no longer there, thanks to aaron berr, only had a minority status in the government. as president jefferson's secretary of state, madison had strongly supported an embargo of overseas trade, commercial retaliation for british degradations on the high seas. it was madison who constructed the embargo. that really has madison's hands all over it. americans lost honor, was part of the diplomatic stalemate that madison inherited, as well as
the itch to subvert british and canada was another. now, if we look at canada, and one of the things we argue is that the war of 1812 is two wars if not more in terms of the agendas it takes on. the project of taking canada really is a filibuster masquerading as a national war. what we tend to forget about our history is that filibustering was the national past time in the 19th century. there are numerous attempts to, you know, engage in either sparking revolution, in canada, in latin america, this was not a sort of one time event. it defined america because america in the 19th century was about getting their hands on land. as much land as possible. it is the most important principle of the 19th century. think about texas. texas independence, it was not a revolution of independence. it had outside americans as private armies that went into
texas to help facilitate what happened there. in the war of 1812, before the war begins, jefferson and james monroe are dreaming of this potential war as leading to the annexation of cuba and canada. this is kind of the fantasy of the ever expanding continent without thinking about the real realities of what it takes it deal with taking this land or conquering this land. but this was what they were very much invested in. unfortunately, for are mr. madison, he wasn't going to get canada, wasn't going to get cuba, he had to settle for baton rouge. where i happen to live right now. so it is a good thing. this baton rouge, if you don't know, came into the united states because it was based on a filibuster, undertaken by virginians as opposed to the new yorker, aaron ber are ar and hi
ademocr attempt. the lone star flag of the west virginia -- west florida public later morphed into the better known texas flag. and madison was completely on board with this. he wasn't opposed to it. he was, like, we'll take advantage of this. while history is privilege, the role of the younger war hawks in congress, theirs is only part of one story. albert galatin of pennsylvania, madison and jefferson's long time secretary of the treasury, wrote the following on the eve of madison's assumption of the presidency, mr. madison is as i always knew him slow in taking his ground, but firm when the storm arises. >> in his first inaugural address, march 1809, madison made sure everyone knew that he considered his election to have come at a critical historical
moment. he was the first u.s. president to use the inaugural address for this purpose, the first to move beyond generalities. he was absent of political bromides, absent of platitudes. strong and direct. america faced, he said, global challenges without a parallel in history. he wanted no part of europe's bloody and wasteful wars. and that was jeffersonian language too. but he demanded of the smug power that was great britain one thing, the rights of neutrals. of course we all know what happened before his first term had ended, the u.s. declared war on britain, a war it was ill equipped to fund. also of critical interest to us